St. John's wort is a herb. Its flowers and leaves are used to make medicine. St. John's wort is effective for mild to moderate depression and conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. However, a new study by researchers at University of Adelaide has revealed that it St. John's Wort can produce the same adverse reactions as antidepressants and serious side effects can occur when the two are taken together.
The research teams compared the pattern of spontaneous reported adverse drug reactions of St. John's Wort, a herbal treatment for depression, and fluoxetine, a commonly prescribed antidepressant. They found the unfavorable reactions were the same for patients who took St. John's Wort as it was for those who took fluoxetine.
Claire Hoban from the University of Adelaide pharmacology said, "St. John's Wort, like all herbal medicines, was a drug. It could cause serious side effects such as dangerous increases in body temperature and blood pressure. People needed to start thinking of St. John's Wort, and other herbal medicines, as a drug and seek advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner to be sure they use it safely. The severe adverse reactions in the population for St. John's Wort were very similar to fluoxetine, which included anxiety, panic attacks, dizziness, vomiting, amnesia and aggression."
Dr. Ian Musgrave said, "The real danger was that people can access St. John's Wort without a prescription so there was no control over the dosage or what drugs people were using it with." He appealed for improved warming signs on the bottle of St. John's Wort.
The study is published in the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.